Have you noticed tiny flies buzzing around your home? The dreaded fruit flies have arrived, and they won’t go away, despite your efforts to keep things tidy. These tiny nuisances breed quickly, so you might notice a single fruit fly one day and then a swarm only a day or two later. Let’s make one thing clear: Fruit flies are not a cleanliness issue. They can invade your home no matter how clean and sanitary it is. The culprit isn’t dirt and grime—it’s fermenting fruits and vegetables and moisture that lure these pests into your home.
Fruit flies can get out of control quickly because a female lays eggs on or in ripe and rotting fruit. After they hatch, larvae can evolve into adults in a matter of days and continue the breeding cycle. And since the females can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, you better learn how to get rid of fruit flies in your house quickly and immediately.
These pests are active all year, but you’ll really need to get rid of fruit flies at the end of the summer and into the fall when fruits and vegetables are especially ripe or fermented. The pests can come in on the produce you buy at the farmer’s market or the pumpkin patch down the road. However they arrived, never fear: Learning how to get rid of fruit flies is simple and easy. But first, let’s make sure we know what we’re dealing with, and then we’ll learn how to kill fruit flies.
What’s the Difference Between Fruit Flies, Drain Flies, and Gnats?
When you see little black bugs flying around, your first step is to find out what kind of pest you have. Fruit flies, drain flies, and gnats look similar, but getting rid of fruit flies takes a specific approach. Gnats are typically gray, black, or brown with light-colored legs. Adult gnats are usually less than ⅛ inch long and look more like mosquitos than flies.
Drain flies are gray or tan with dark trim around their wings. Adult drain flies are about the same size as adult gnats but have fuzzy bodies and antennae that give them a moth-like appearance. Fruit flies in your home typically come in two varieties: the red-eyed fruit fly and the dark-eyed fruit fly. Both have striped abdomens, and the primary difference should be evident from their names. Dark-eyed fruit flies are a little larger than the red-eyed variety, but both resemble small house flies.
Fruit flies primarily infest areas where there’s fruit, vegetables, or garbage, while gnats infest the soil of houseplants. You’ll learn how to get rid of fruit flies in your house with this guideline, and if you determine your pests are gnats, we’ve got you covered with our tips for getting rid of gnats.
Can Fruit Flies in My House Cause Illness?
While it’s not common, a fruit fly infestation can make your family sick. Fruit flies pick up any bacteria on surfaces where they land and deposit the germs onto other surfaces and fresh foods. Because fruit flies are attracted to feces, E. coli, along with salmonella and listeria, can be of concern. These three bacteria can cause food poisoning and, in severe cases, can be life-threatening. While the chances of someone getting sick from an infestation are low, the icky factor alone should be enough to make you want to get rid of fruit flies.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the House Using Traps, Sprays, and Plants
So how do you get rid of fruit flies? It’s easy to learn with homemade traps using household ingredients. You can use ripened fruit, beer, or apple cider vinegar to lure, trap, and kill them. Place a few DIY fruit fly traps around the house near sinks, food cabinets, and trash cans. If the fruit fly infestation is severe, consider commercial products like sprays and traps or go all-natural and let a carnivorous plant handle the pest control.
Here are several proven remedies for how to get rid of fruit flies:
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Apple Cider Vinegar
Fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar (you can also use white vinegar in a pinch), use a rubber band and plastic wrap to make a cover, then poke holes in the top. The vinegar will attract the pests and trap them inside.
Vinegar and Dish Soap
Mix vinegar and a drop of dish soap in a bowl. The vinegar attracts the pests, and the dish soap reduces the liquid surface tension enough that the bugs drown.
Vinegar and Ripe Fruit
Put a piece of ripe fruit in a jar ¼ full of apple cider vinegar. Roll some paper into a cone and insert the smaller end into the jar. The ripe fruit and vinegar attract the flies, and the cone makes it difficult for them to get out. You can also use red wine to create a similar trap by pouring just enough to cover the bottom of the jar.
Yeast and Sugar
Use a pint glass jar. Add a 1/4 cup of warm water to a pint glass jar. Pour in a package of activated dry yeast, then add a teaspoon of sugar to activate your irresistible fruit fly trap.
A guide for how to get rid of fruit flies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their natural enemies—carnivorous house plants. Carnivorous plants like Sundew or Pitcher plants are a natural solution that provides immediate and long-term fruit fly control.
Citronella and Other Essential Oils
Many essential oils naturally deter pests like mosquitos, ants, and fruit flies. While citronella oil is the most common ingredient of natural commercial pest repellants, you can use cedarwood, cinnamon, lemongrass, clove, and others. Pick your favorite scent and mix a few drops in a spray bottle with water for a safe, eco-friendly fruit fly deterrent.
Rubbing alcohol repels and kills fruit flies while it disinfects and sanitizes. Keep a spray bottle filled with undiluted rubbing alcohol for sudden fruit fly outbursts and quick sanitizing around the house. Be careful using it around carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics to avoid ruining colors.
From sticky fly paper to plastic traps, there are plenty of effective and safe commercial products to help get rid of fruit flies. You can also find eco-friendly sprays for non-food surfaces like mop heads, under sinks, around drain covers, garbage cans, and other areas.
How to Prevent Fruit Fly Infestations
Knowing how to get rid of fruit flies in the house is a vital housekeeping skill. But the best guard against these annoying pests is to keep your kitchen clean.
Follow these five helpful tips to keep fruit flies out of your kitchen:
- Manage Your Produce
Buy only enough produce at a time you’re sure you’ll eat. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch and instigate a hoard of fruit flies to invade your kitchen. When you bring home fresh produce from the market, wash it off before putting it away. The quick cleaning removes lingering pesticides and residue that could attract fruit flies—and it minimizes germs.
A mixture of two parts water and one part distilled white vinegar cleans produce and kills some bacteria that could prolong ripening. Wash your produce with a cloth and your vinegar solution, and rinse thoroughly to eliminate the offensive odor. Put ripening produce in the refrigerator or paper bags on the counter. The cold slows down the ripening, and the paper bags keep the fruit flies from reaching your fruits and veggies. Be sure to throw out overripe or rotting produce as soon as you notice it’s turning bad.
- Take Out the Trash
Taking the trash out daily helps prevent fruit flies and keeps your home looking clean and smelling fresh, and empty your recycling bin before it gets full. Each time you take out the trash or recycle, rinse out the can and dry it before lining it with a new bag. Don’t forget to keep baseboards, corners, and other areas around your trash can clean by wiping off buildup weekly. If your trashcan or recycling bin sits under a sink, wipe down the interior of the cabinet with a sanitizer at least monthly.
- Sweep and Mop Daily
All those little crumbs from sandwiches, bagels, and pastries may be hard for you to see, but fruit flies will pick up the scent right away. Sweep and mop daily and pay extra attention to hard-to-reach places, like the between your refrigerator and counters. At least weekly, use your vacuum and the crevice tool to get into the areas between your fridge and counters.
- Don’t Leave Dirty Dishes in the Sink
All that gunk on dirty dishes is too much to resist for fruit flies looking for a snack or a spot to lay their eggs. Washing dirty dishes right away reduces breeding grounds and minimizes food sources. It’s also a good idea not to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher too long, either. Even with the door closed, all kinds of pests can find their way in, including fruit flies.
- Keep Sink Drains Clean
Cleaning the drains in your kitchen sink with vinegar can help reduce the aromas of food debris in the drains. If you have a garbage disposal, clean the baffle and the top of the disposal, then pour in the vinegar and baking soda. Turn on the disposal and run hot water for 30 seconds to flush all the food particles.
Use these tips on how to get rid of fruit flies in your house and prevent future infestations. And when you need help getting your kitchen or any other room fresh and clean, The Maids® provides affordable and flexible residential cleaning for all your housekeeping needs. Find out more when you get a free online estimate for your home.